The Pittsburgh Steelers are sure to address the running back position at some point during the draft or free agency as they simply need more bodies on their offseason roster. While there are already several running backs that could fit their need that are scheduled to become free agents at the start of the new league, we are starting to see other veterans being released by teams ahead of that.
On Monday it was reported that running back DeAngelo Williams was informed by the Carolina Panthers that he will be officially released by them in the coming days and while we are unsure if the Steelers will have any interest in him, he does have a history with one of their coaches.
Williams who will turn 32 in April, played his college ball at Memphis. Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner was the offensive coordinator for the Tigers back in those days and he’s even credited with having recruited Williams.
Along with him being on the wrong side of 30, Williams will also come with medical flags attached to him. Last season he only played in six games before he was placed on injured reserve after dealing with leg, foot and hand injuries. He only rushed for 219 yards on 62 carries prior to that happening. The three seasons prior to that, however, Williams only missed one regular-season game, so there’s that.
Williams’ days as an every-down are way behind him now and if he’s going to continue his career he’s likely going to have to sign with a team knowing that he will be used sparingly. The Steelers tried that last season with running back LeGarrette Blount and that didn’t work out so well. Williams, however, has a clean past when it comes to being a team player in Carolina and one would think that he wouldn’t create waves wherever he does land.
If indeed the Steelers do wind up showing any interest in Williams they will only sign him if the price is right and he checks out medically. Last year Blount signed a two-year contract with the Steelers worth $3.85 million and that included a first year base salary of $900,000 along with a $950,000 signing bonus. There were also incentives included in that deal that Blount of course never came close to hitting. It’s hard to imagine that Williams would be offered much more than that from the Steelers, so if he’s expecting a big deal he shouldn’t waste his time flying to Pittsburgh.
Williams won’t be the only veteran running back to be released between now and the start of the league year so I doubt teams will be falling all over themselves to sign him. In fact, there’s a good chance that he stays unemployed until after the draft or at least until some of the bigger named soon-to-be free agent running backs sign.
Being as Steelers currently only have two running backs under contract for 2015 to back up starter Le’Veon Bell, I fully expect that they’ll sign another veteran between now and the start of training camp even if they do wind up drafting another one. Williams will likely be one of many free agents that they keep their eyes on and while they could likely do better than him, they certainly could do a lot worse.